Most of us have read in the book of Revelation for years but have a hard time getting past the first 5 or 6 chapters. (please notice that the book is NOT called Revelations but Revelation because there is only one revelation in the book and that is JESUS!) I know that has been my story. I now realize that you can make it through the whole book BUT you must have some help. Some guidelines on which to place your hat!
This is what I want to offer you here.
1. Why the book was written.
The best answer to this question is found in reading the very first verse of the book!
”The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him (Jesus) to show His servants — things which must shortly take place.” Rev 1:1
Revelation was written as the “unveiling” of Jesus’ character and leadership that will bring the planet through the final stages of the end of the world as we know it.
In Revelation we see Him in a different light than we do through the Gospels. In the Gospels, we see Him as the One who came born in a manger, riding on a donkey, hidden away in Bethlehem. In Revelation, “Every eye will see Him…”as He comes riding on the clouds and riding on a white horse, His eyes are flames of fire, His robe dipped in blood.
“With justice He judges and makes war” Rev 19:11
Revelation is a gift for us to all know Him as He really is and to prepare to meet Him as His Bride. “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’” Rev 22:17
”End-time prophecy is about both the unveiling of events and the beauty of the personhood of Christ Jesus. Somehow Jesus’ divine administrations are powerfully and intricately woven together with revelation of His beauty. “ — Stuart Greaves
The structure is really easy. There are four clear sections. If you can see that you can make your way forward.
1) Rev. 1 John’s CALLING to prophesy about the End-Times
“Write in a book what you have seen…” Rev 1:11
“Write what you have seen, what is now, and what will take place later.” Rev 1:19
2) Rev. 2-3 Seven LETTERS to seven churches
“But this I have against you…To him who overcomes I will give…” Rev 2:4, 7
Here is “timeless advice” to the church to keep our hearts burning for Jesus. The main points cover: passivity, idolatry and immorality.
3) Rev. 4-5 The Throne in Heaven, The SCROLL and the Lamb
”Around the throne were 24 thrones; and upon the thrones I saw 24 elders…Rev 4:4
”And no one in heaven, or on the earth, or under the earth, was able to open the scroll, or to look into it… And He (the Lamb) came and took it out of the right hand of Him who sat on the Throne.” Rev 5:3,7
4) Rev. 6-22 Jesus’ BATTLE PLAN: includes 21 consecutive judgments against the Antichrist and his allies, the 2nd Coming of Christ and the New Heaven and New Earth.
3. The 7 Main Symbols (from ihop.org — permission granted)
All events and numbers in Revelation are to be taken in their plain meaning (literal) unless specifically indicated not to (Rev. 1:20; 5:6; 11:8; 12:1, 3, 9; 17:7, 9, 15-18, etc.)
1) The Dragon: is symbolic of Satan (Rev. 12:3, 4, 7, 9, 13, 16, 17; 13:2, 4; 16:13; 20:2)
2) The First Beast: is symbolic of the Antichrist (Rev. 13; 14:9-11; 17:3-17; 19:19-21; 20:4,10)
3) Another Beast: is symbolic of the False Prophet called “another Beast” just once (Rev. 13:11)
4) Seven Heads: are 7 empires from history that persecuted Israel (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome, revived Roman Empire of Dan. 2:41-42; 7:7; Rev. 12:3; 13:1; 17:3-16)
5) Ten Horns: represents a 10-nation confederation that serves the Antichrist (Rev. 17:12-13)
6) Harlot Babylon: will be a worldwide, demonically inspired, religious and economic system based in the re-built city of Babylon, near Baghdad in Iraq (Rev. 17-18; Jer. 50-51)
7) Woman with a Male-child (Jesus): is the faithful remnant of Israel through history (Rev. 12)
4. And now for the hard part…”The Interludes”
The hardest part to get through when reading the book of Revelation is the juxtaposition of the “chronological story line” through the many “pauses” that interrupt the unfolding of the story.
Here is where you must have a physical roadmap to follow your way through to the end or you will be hopelessly lost!
In Rev. 6, we read of the famous “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”, who are the first judgments to be released BY JESUS to bring destruction of evil on the earth as He breaks open the first four seals on the scroll, the title-deed-of-earth.
By the time the 6th seal is opened and the judgment is released, the scene in heaven comes to a grinding halt and the Spirit gives an “interlude” to the action. In the NASB version, Rev 7 is titled “An Interlude” which could suggest “A Rest” or “A Pause”. Here the action and the scene shift to an event that will happen but not in the direct flow of the story line!
I can understand why the Holy Spirit is bringing these interludes because to depict the 21 world-wide judgments in the space of 3 ½ years (i.e. the 7 seals, 7 trumpets, 7 bowls, all of which intensify in severity as they unfold) demands “breathing space” not only to the writer – John – but also to the reader.
They (interludes) answer questions arising from the chronological sections: Why is God’s wrath so severe? What will happen to us? Angels explain to John what happens to God’s people including what Jesus will do to help us and what the Antichrist will do to persecute us. — Mike Bickle
Revelation’s 5 Interludes (taken from ihop.org)
Interlude # I.
Rev. 7 We receive PROTECTION from judgments and falling away.
Interlude # II.
Rev. 10-11:1-14 We receive DIRECTION by great increase of prophetic ministry.
Interlude # III.
Rev. 12-14 The CONFRONTATION against the saints by the Antichrist’s system and persecutions requires that all his governments be taken over. Satan is on earth.
Interlude # IV.
Rev. 17-19:11 The SEDUCTION of Babylon’s evil religion will permeate and infiltrate all the structures of society, requiring that Babylon be totally destroyed.
Interlude # V.
Rev. 21:9-22:5 The RESTORATION of all things (Acts 3:21) The New Jerusalem on earth
5. One more look at the Rapture…
One final key to reading the book and what is probably the most debated point and the area of the most confusion is the Rapture. Most camps agree that there is one, the issue is one of timing!
I strongly believe that if you would read the previous 26 books on the NT BEFORE reading Revelation – which might be the idea – you must come to the conclusion that the Rapture of the church will happen “at the Last Trumpet”.
“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 1 Cor. 15:51-52
Rev 11:15-19 depicts the 7th (last) trumpet. There is no getting around this point.
This is the Second Coming of Jesus. It doesn’t not stand out in block letter as you read it in Revelation but this is the climax of all human history.
Right after this 7th Trumpet and the saints being “caught away” to be with Jesus in the air comes “The Interlude” of Rev. 12-14, which deals with the most symbolism of the entire book and throws a wrench in the sequential reading of the book.
+ A woman clothed with the sun and a crown of 12 stars
+ A great red dragon with 7 heads and 10 horns
+ The Male Child
+ The woman fled into the wilderness for 1260 days (42 months, 3 ½ years)
+ Satan thrown down to earth by Michael and his angels
+ The beast from the sea with 10 horns and 7 heads
+ The beast from the earth with 2 horns like a lamb and speaking as a dragon
+ The mark of the Beast – 666
+ The Lamb standing on Mount Zion with 144,000
+ The Three Angels
+ The Reapers
By the time one gets to the final “7 Bowls of the Wrath of God” (Rev 15-16) you find yourself utterly and completely lost… Yet this exact time was prophesied by Daniel as the 1290 days from the time the Abomination of Desolation to the End Times. (Please read Daniel 12: 9-13)
After the Last Trumpet (Rev 11) there has to be a period of time that can finish the wrath of God and here we have it: 1290 – 1260 = 30 days. 30 days for the wrath of God to be finished and for Jesus to wipe off all evil from the planet and to usher in the 1000 year reign.
I know that last bit was a lot but if you are still reading, you might find this more than intriguing!!
Yours for the least in the Kingdom,
Jeff and Maria
P.S. I really recommend the free teaching from IHOP.org
Maria and I are very stirred at this season over a message that “the Spirit is saying to the churches”. We believe that now is the time to prepare the global church for the End Times Generation, the people who will witness the 2nd coming of Christ.
At the very least, we believe that now is the time to seriously know “the Book”, especially the New Testament. One of the most neglected and confusing books of the NT is the last one, Revelation. This is about to change, however, as we experience a “world-wide shift” to prepare the Bride of Christ for Her role in the age to come.
To take you into this slowly, I thought it best to concentrate our study of the End Times and the 2nd Coming of Christ through the testimony of Peter, Paul and Jesus.
Several common themes emerge. I would like to look at five of them in the next few articles.
1. Be Ready for His Coming. (Mtt 24:44)
From Mtt 24 (and the 2 parallel passages in Lk 21 and Mk 13) we can see that when Jesus was asked directly by His disciples about the “end of the age” (Mtt 24:3), His immediate response was that they be careful not to be misled by anyone and to be on their guard.
Paul echoes this reply when speaking of the End Times (i.e. the Day of the Lord) to the Thessalonians:
“So then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.” I Thess 5:6
Jesus later explains to his disciples in Mtt 24:25, 44 that He is telling them about His 2nd coming “in advance” so that they can “be ready!”
Many in the church today are confused about this point – “If we cannot know the exact timing why should we bother to spend much time in Revelation and the End Times chapters? Isn’t this just harmful, unnecessary speculations?”
Here is where we have erred however.
While it is true that NO ONE knows the day or the hour (except the Father) we ARE TO KNOW the signs and the season that the Lord will return.
Jesus said it quite clearly in Luke 21: ”But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads because your redemption is drawing near.. Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation… and that day come on you suddenly like a trap.” Lk 21:28,34
Peter joins his voice on the “End Times Discussion” by telling his readers:
“Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God.” 2 Peter 2:11-12
The clear, straightforward truth of our position regarding the End of the age and the return of Jesus in the clouds is to “Be Ready”
2. Encourage one another with these words. (1 Thess.4:18 )
“Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” I Thess. 4:17-18
It is quite remarkable to read the short letters of I & II Thessalonians and to realize how much is in there regarding the End Times.
Paul’s stay in Thessalonica was very brief. NT Scholars all agree on a stay no longer than 1-2 months. The Jews grabbed some “wicked men from the market place” and formed a mob to chase Paul and Silas out of town! Yet in that short time, Paul and Silas made known to the new believers there the importance of preparing for the 2nd coming of the Lord and to comfort one another with these words.
I love Paul’s writing from II Thess. 2:1-4. In the middle of the discussion about the End Times and the great “falling away” that would come and the revealing of the “man of lawlessness”, he suddenly stops and reminds them that he has told them this already:
”Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?” II Thess. 2:5
For Paul (and Peter and Jesus), the End Times was a doctrine to put your hope in and not to be afraid of. It was teaching to encourage each other about and not to separate with each other over or quarrel with. There was an anticipation and expectancy in the 1st century church that we would do well to follow in the 21st century!!
As Paul wraps up his exhortation to the Thessalonians about the End Times he tells them: “Therefore, encourage one another and build up one another, just as you are doing.” I Thess. 5:11
We believe the Bride of Jesus is making herself ready and is doing just this around the world.
3. The Abomination of Desolation (Mtt 24:15)
“Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.” Mtt 24:15-16
One of the most sensational aspects of the End Times is the reality of the Abomination of Desolation that Jesus predicted would come before He returns on the clouds and with the blast of the great trumpet. It will be an event that signals the beginning of the Great Tribulation:
“For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Mtt 24:21
We must be grateful, though, that in Jesus’ great discourse of the Signs of the End of the Age (Mtt 24) He mentions the “Abomination of Desolation” as being spoken of through the prophet Daniel. This allows us to look even further BACK in history to gain more understanding of a certain FUTURE event!
The “Abomination of Desolation” is an act by the Antichrist and his forces in the End Times as he sets himself “as God” up in the Temple in Jerusalem to be worshipped by all nations.
Forces from him (the Antichrist) will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation. Daniel 11:31
Daniel was one of the key End Times prophets:
He saw with stunning clarity and detail the Abomination of Desolation and what was coming at the end of the age. Here is a quick overview from the last few chapters of the book of Daniel (7-12):
During one significant dream about the End Times, Daniel, so disturbed about the beasts he saw, asked an angel – in his dream – for the “true meaning” of his vision. The angel gave Daniel an explanation of the Beast with 10 horns. This Beast would devour the whole earth and would rule the earth for 3 ½ years. He will speak against the Most High, wear down the saints, and try to “change the set times and the laws”. (Dan. 7:23-25)
Daniel goes on to pinpoint this Beast with 10 horns as the one who commits the “Abomination of Desolation” (Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:11) that Jesus references in Mtt 24.
John in Revelation calls him the Beast from the sea: ”All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast” Rev 13:8
Paul called the “Beast” the “man of lawlessness” and said that when he is revealed he “opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. (II Thess 2:4)
The Beast’s power, deception and rule is unparalleled in human history BUT his end is sure.
”Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming” II Thess 2:8
4. The Last Trumpet (I Cor 15: 51-52)
Leave it to the apostle Paul to give us the shortest and simplest explanation of the Second Coming:
Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 1 Cor. 15:51-52
In another “End Times moment” Paul tells his readers that:
”the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:15-17)
It is so significant to see the central place that the last trumpet has in Paul’s teaching because he wrote this forty years BEFORE John wrote Revelation. In Revelation, we see the unfolding of the great devastation (with great symmetry) that the 21 judgments will release upon the Beast and his kingdoms to wipe evil off the planet.
First, there will be the 7 Seals judgments (Rev 6) that in turn open up the 7 Trumpets judgments (Rev 8-11). After the Last Trumpet, there follows the final 7 Bowls judgments (Rev 15-16). “Last because with them God’s wrath is complete.” (Rev. 15:1)
At the last (7th) trumpet, Jesus returns with the “dead in Christ” and those who are alive at His coming will be “caught up” together in the air, to be with Him forever.
5. And He shall reign forever and ever. (Rev 11:15)
“And He shall reign for ever and ever! King of kings and Lord of lords! Hallelujah!” (G. F. Handel)
These words are far more than just a powerful refrain for Handel’s The Messiah. It is the conviction of the whole Bible that Jesus will reign as Lord of lords and King of kings forever and ever.
Has this happened yet? Did it happen at the cross?
Once again we can turn to Paul for answers!!
”For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. (I Cor 15: 22-25)
At the end of the ages, when Christ returns with the saints, He will rule and reign on the earth over all rule and all authority and power! Then He will hand over the kingdom to His Father, Who will come in the sky with the new Jerusalem. (Rev. 21:16)
The new Jerusalem has no temple: Jesus and the Father are the temple.
The new Jerusalem has no sun or moon: Jesus and the Father are the lights.
The nations of the earth will walk by its light and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. (Rev 21:22-24)
”Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus.”
Yours for the least in the kingdom,
PS. ”Concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief… Therefore…let us watch and be sober. “(1 Thess. 5:1-6)
As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God. Matthew Parris
Missionaries, not aid money, are the solution to Africa’s biggest problem – the crushing passivity of the people’s mindset.
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